veil of masculinity

When I first began photographing the nude male in 2013, I had no idea that it might be a subversive act. I put up my images and visitors mostly had positive responses, or so I thought. It wasn’t until much later that I began to hear whispers that my work might be pornographic or somehow dangerous that I realized what had happened.

Even though I live in a sophisticated American city where fine art photography, and particularly the fine art nude, began a hundred years ago, the taboo of seeing the male body had persisted and possibly even deepened.

There has long been a disconnect between what we are allowed to see in art galleries and even in the world of women’s bodies and what we are allowed to see or feel comfortable seeing of the male body. This tension has driven my work forward, making me want to get it into the world rather than be driven into the dark corners.

Then I had recently moved to a new studio building and in one of the stairwells hung a huge painting by Guy Anderson, considered to be one of Northwest masters in the fifties. A the very top of this painting was a stylized figure of a naked man. I realized right then that I rarely saw men’s bodies in art and found out more about Anderson who was gay and that this nude floating character often found his way into the artist’s work.

© 2023 Ann-Marie Stillion / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York